The Pharmacology of LSD


Order The Pharmacology of LSD: A Critical Review from Oxford University Press or from Amazon UK

Authors: Annelie Hintzen M.D. and Torsten Passie M.D., M.A. Paperback: App 200 pages
Publisher: The Beckley Foundation Press and Oxford University Press (June 2010)
Language: English translated from German

After the discovery of its effects in 1943 LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) became the most extensively studied psycho pharmacological agent ever and had a tremendous impact on neurotransmitter research. Lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD was discovered in 1943. Since being made illegal in the mid-1960s it was used as an experimental drug in psychiatry and psychotherapy. LSD is still a widely used drug.

LSD has a controversial and extraordinary reputation due to the special effects it can induce on human consciousness. Its experimental use led to some ground breaking discoveries about the brain and the deeper layers of the human psyche. After its application in neuroscience, and as a tool within psychotherapy, it was increasingly used by laymen to produce euphoria, altered perception and religious experiences (“consciousness expansion”). Its complex effects on sensory, emotional and cognitive functions made LSD a probe into the human psyche, a research tool, a therapeutic agent and a controversial catalyst of individual and social change. Not widely known, but during the 1980s some important new neuroleptic drugs for treating schizophrenia were developed by testing the drug on LSD-trained animals (e.g. risperidone). Today there is a resurgence of interest in LSD, including its possible uses in psychotherapy and in some headache disorders.

The pharmacology of LSD is complex and its mechanisms of action are still not completely understood. During the active phase of research with LSD during the 1950s and 1960s more than 5000 scientific publications have appeared. Due to the lack of any comprehensive review about this widely dispersed experimental literature, the present book focuses on a careful and systematic review of the data about all aspects of the pharmacology and psychopharmacology of LSD, including most of the animal research and virtually all human clinical studies relevant to its pharmacology and mechanisms of action. The introduction gives a concise overview of the history of the drug, its potentials and the turmoil which temporarily surrounded it.

The book represents the first ever comprehensive review of the psychological and pharmacological effects of LSD. It draws on data from more than 3000 experimental and clinical studies, with more than 1000 referenced. It provides a unique and valuable resource for anyone interested in better understanding this complex and controversial hallucinogenic drug.

The prominent psychopharmacologist Leslie Iversen (University of Oxford, England) stated in his preface: “We should be grateful to the authors for their patient compilation of a huge literature … The subject has always raised controversies, but this volume provides a much-needed sober and neutral scientific account”.

Cover image: LSD-crystals in polarized light (enlarged). Photo by Albert Hofmann, discoverer of LSD

All proceeds from the book go towards the Beckley/Imperial Psychedelic Research Programme.

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